...for a different kind of girl

silent surburban girl releasing her voice, not yet knowing what all she wants to say about her life and the things that make it spin. do you have to be 18 to be here? you'll know when i know.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

well done, my friend. well done...

My friend Shawn is boisterous. When I’ve described him as such, he’s thrown a sturdy arm around my shoulders, tugged me in close, and said, “Just tell ‘em the truth. I’m loud!” It’s the truth. Shawn is loud. Like sirens sounding, cymbals crashing, and bombs exploding, all at the same time. He doesn’t quietly enter a room and take a seat in the corner, hoping to melt into the shadows. He kicks in the door, throws open his arms, tosses back his head, and trumpets his arrival.

The trouble with describing Shawn simply as loud, however, is that it’s not quite a powerful enough adjective. Everything about him is emphatic and rambunctious. His personality is powerful. His laughter is booming. His curiosity is intense. His faith in God is immense. His compassion is emphatic. His love is encompassing. Nothing about him is minute. Shawn is a crescendo.

My dear friend is the very definition of ‘larger than life,’ but on Tuesday afternoon, I’ll be attending his funeral.

I learned last Thursday Shawn died when another friend phoned at one of those early morning hours that compels you to say "What's happened?" rather than "Hello” when you answer. Grief rushed through me so quickly I had to hand the phone to my husband so the news could be repeated to him. My tears, instant and fierce, left me gasping for air and incapable of speaking, although I think my hope was that if I didn't have to say the words out loud, they wouldn't be true. I felt like I’d been punched in the gut. One of my very best friends, someone I was honored to know for more than 10 years, was dead at 44 of a heart attack.

Shawn and I met at church. Curious and searching, he’d been invited to worship at the same church my husband and I had recently started attending for much the same reason. Less than a year later, Shawn and his wife, my husband and I, and a handful of other couples gathered around a dining room table, filled with ideas and eagerness to plant a new church. I was still a very new Christian, and so was Shawn, but his passion for learning and serving was contagious. The light that shined in his eyes and fueled his heart was forever intense, and it spilled into the community. He was never invasive, but if your heart was burdened, you knew after meeting Shawn that there was someone praying for you. He knew I’ve not been a particularly happy person for the last several months, and on a recent Sunday morning, during worship, I looked across the gym where we hold church and saw him staring in my direction. He was stabbing the air with his index finger, and I casually glanced behind me to see whose attention he was trying to capture. After several more covert glances, I realized he was pointing at me. When he had my attention, he shaped his fingers into a heart, held them to his chest, and smiled. The gesture, simple and pure, made me cry. The last time we spoke, he asked me if there was anything he could do to be of help to me. That's the essence of who Shawn was.

Shawn and I shared a mutual love of 80s music and outrageous comedies. “Our friendship was built on Madonna and the Messiah!” he’d say. “Where would we be without prayer and The Princess Bride?” I’d ask. Our phone calls often involved him serenading me with a song we both loved (far too many to count based on the number of mix CDs he created for me), or reciting a scene or six from one of our favorite movies before our outrageous laughter forced me to beg for mercy. Sometimes after such fits, Shawn would have to hang up and then call back a few minutes later because he’d forgotten the point of his original call. Last Tuesday, I called to tell him IFC was airing Monty Python and the Holy Grail later that evening, and we immediately unleashed as King Arthur and the Black Knight ("Look, you stupid bastard, you've got no arms left!" "Yes I have!" "Look!" "It's just a flesh wound."). I watched the movie this weekend and it felt very quiet among the pieces of my broken heart.

I realize none of you know my friend Shawn, although if one or two of you did, I'd not be surprised. It might be a cliché, but the man never knew a stranger. Once, a group of six of us went out to dinner, and between the salads and the entrees, we had to push three additional tables together and add eight more chairs to our intimate setting because Shawn knew – or just knew of – half the people in the restaurant. When I first got to know him, I selfishly wished to be his sole best friend, but there's a reason why his funeral will be held at a church that seats more than 800 people. Shawn would say he was a black hole that sucked us all in, but the truth is, he was a bright sun the rest of us orbited around.

My heart has been raw and so very heavy since I learned of Shawn’s death. I can’t stop thinking of his wife and two sons and the awesome love they shared. I feel cheated of more time with him here. Walking into church today and not having his voice be the first thing I heard was jolting. I’m profoundly sad, and moved to tears at the slightest thought, but a faith I credit him for bolstering means I know my friend wouldn’t want me, or anyone else who loves him, to feel so sad for long. I know he wouldn’t have chosen to leave his family, but he’s happy and healed where he is now, and I firmly believe he kicked open the gates and cheered his arrival.

And secretly, I hope by now he’s gotten God to join in on a Python riff (“Every time I try to talk to someone, it’s ‘sorry this’ and ‘forgive me that’ and ‘I’m not worthy…’”). I'd expect nothing less.



Blogger bernthis said...

i am so so so sorry. I can't imagine your pain. Lots of love.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 10:33:00 PM  
Blogger Anna Whiston-Donaldson said...

I am so very, very sorry. What an enormous loss to you, to his family, to our world! Your post did a beautiful job of describing an incredible man. I hope you'll be able to share it with others as you grieve.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 11:02:00 PM  
Blogger mommymae said...

i'm so very sorry. i had a call like that last month 7 it knocks the wind out of you too damn early in the morning.

Monday, October 26, 2009 12:21:00 AM  
Blogger LyN said...

truly sorry for your loss and the pain that you're going through now. i've been through that b4. lost a dear friend to breast cancer. never easy for me. but all i could do at that time was to stay strong. and i hope you will in the face of all these.

Monday, October 26, 2009 12:58:00 AM  
Blogger Possum said...

What an awesome tribute to your friend!

Monday, October 26, 2009 3:16:00 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your friend. My heart and prayers go out to his family and friends.

Monday, October 26, 2009 6:23:00 AM  
Blogger Bijoux said...

No words, FADKOG. Just hugs. Looking forward to meeting your friend someday at the banquet table.

Monday, October 26, 2009 6:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Karen said...

I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm glad you got to be friends with someone so incredible. He sounds utterly deightful. May he live forever in your heart.

Monday, October 26, 2009 7:10:00 AM  
Blogger Chasity said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss of a dear friend. You did a wonderful job of describing him. What a beautiful way to describe someone- "Shawn is a crescendo". I am sending prayers for you, as well as all the lives who will feel the absence of and miss that crescendo.

Monday, October 26, 2009 7:14:00 AM  
Blogger justmakingourway said...

I am so very, very sorry for your loss. It is times like these that make me envious of those - like you and Shawn's family - who have such a great deal of faith. I know that will be a comfort. He sounds like a truly wonderful man. And think of how many more people will be thinking and praying for him and you and his family now that we know him too.

Sending love.

Monday, October 26, 2009 8:05:00 AM  
Blogger Logical Libby said...

How could you not love someone who put Madonna and Jesus in the same sentence?

It sucks that he's gone.

Monday, October 26, 2009 8:20:00 AM  
Blogger Susan said...

Beautiful tribute. It sounds like he got a lot of life and love packed into a short span of time.

I bet you're right about God and the Python skit.

Monday, October 26, 2009 8:25:00 AM  
Blogger Bogart said...

This is a great tribute...thank you for sharing and I am sorry for the loss you are feeling.

Monday, October 26, 2009 8:28:00 AM  
Blogger Desmond Jones said...

I know the feeling. . . sadness for missing your friend, mixed well with an awareness of how privileged you've been to have known him. And a level of disbelief that he's really gone. . .

God just gave him a better offer, I guess. No doubt, he's got you covered, prayer-wise, even better now than he did before. . .

{{{hugs}}} for you, and prayers for his wife and kids. . .

Monday, October 26, 2009 8:35:00 AM  
Blogger Kim said...

I am so sorry. What a wonderful life your friend lived and shared with those around him.

Monday, October 26, 2009 8:40:00 AM  
Blogger SMM said...

I am so sorry to hear of your loss. My husband died at 45. Just way toooooo young.

Monday, October 26, 2009 8:46:00 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

I am so sorry to hear about this FADKOG. Sending prayers for your family and his.

Monday, October 26, 2009 8:56:00 AM  
Blogger Pgoodness said...

I'm so sorry. He sounds like an amazing person.

Monday, October 26, 2009 9:07:00 AM  
Anonymous TwoBusy said...

Shawn sounds like a tremendous guy. I'm deeply sorry for your - and what sounds like everyone's - loss.

Monday, October 26, 2009 9:10:00 AM  
Blogger Melissa said...

He sounds like a remarkable person. I'm so sorry, sweetie.

Monday, October 26, 2009 9:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry to hear for you loss. I'm sending you virtual hugs!

This is a touching tribute to your friend. Your love for him just flows from the screen.

Monday, October 26, 2009 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger Kevin McKeever said...

Terribly saddened by your loss. Anything you need, let me know. Stay well, FADKOG.

Monday, October 26, 2009 12:14:00 PM  
Blogger Melissa @ I Pick Pretty said...

I'm so very sorry for your loss. As usual, what a fitting, lovely tribute.

Monday, October 26, 2009 12:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is quite possibly the most beautiful tribute I have ever had the privilege of reading. You described this man's whole being so well I feel as if I know him too. You and Shawn's family are in my prayers as well as all who knew him. It sounds like his passion changed lives!


Monday, October 26, 2009 1:39:00 PM  
Blogger FTN said...

Aw, man, I'm so sorry to hear that. That's no doubt going to be a tough funeral tomorrow.

That's a fantastically fitting song, too. We've played that one a few times and I love the words and how it builds to the end.

Jesus will overcome.

Monday, October 26, 2009 3:28:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Oh, My!
How sad.
But it obvious he is still very alive to you and i guess will always be.

Monday, October 26, 2009 4:43:00 PM  
Blogger Meg said...

I really don't have much to say that hasn't already been voiced by someone ahead of me. All I can offer is my own prayers and thoughts for you, his wife, his children and the other hundreds of people who have been blessed to be touched by this man in one way or another.

What a wonderful tribute to a good friend.

((HUGS)) to you.

Monday, October 26, 2009 6:13:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

this is a stunningly beautiful tribute to someone I never knew, yet now I feel like I had met him.
I am sorry that you are hurting, but I bet Shawn would have loved to have read this. And I bet you are right, he'll want you to be happy, even with him in a new place.

Monday, October 26, 2009 6:25:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt Juicebox said...

I can only say I'm sorry for your loss.

Monday, October 26, 2009 7:00:00 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

I am so very, very sorry for your loss. Shawn sounds like such a wonderful person. It would have been a privilege to know him.

Your time with him is precious. You have wonderful memories.

Stay close to his wife and kids. They'll be needing some love and friendship.

Monday, October 26, 2009 10:24:00 PM  
Blogger Bee said...

I'm sorry you lost such dear friend. :o(

Monday, October 26, 2009 11:03:00 PM  
Blogger anymommy said...

You wrote an amazing tribute. I wish I'd known him, he sounds like a true joy. Much love to you as you process his loss. I'm so sorry.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 12:02:00 AM  
Blogger Maureen@IslandRoar said...

So very sorry about Shawn. He sounds like it was a blessing to have known him.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 9:04:00 AM  
Anonymous MommyGeekology said...

I am so sorry for your loss. He sounds like a great, great man.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger CT Mom said...

So so sorry. I lost a dear friend to a sudden heart attack when he was 38. Rob had just moved to the Berkshires, and had just sent an email about how great his new life was and to keep in touch. The next day he died.

I still keep in touch with him in my heart. What a true loving spirit. As is your friend Shawn. Keep him in your heart too. He may do more for you and your faith than you'll ever know.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 10:25:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like you were blessed to have each other-- the best friendships are the ones where you not only finish each other's sentences, you get each other's movie references!
I have to tell you, when you told about him making the shape of a heart and pointing to you, it kinda undid me.
Love and comfort.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 10:28:00 AM  
Blogger Redneck Mommy said...

Oh Sugar.

I'm so sorry. The death of a good friend is always a painful heartbreaking experience.

He sounded like a kick ass type of guy and I'm sorry you will miss him so.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 10:30:00 AM  
Anonymous bejewell said...

Oh, this post hurts my heart. We always seem to lose the good ones far too soon. My condolences, to you, to his family, and to all the people whose lives were touched by such a charming, special man.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Kate Coveny Hood said...

What can I say that hasn't been said? What sad, sad news. The sudden loss of someone close to you is so full of confusion, disbelief, the expectation to see them around every corner...

You and everyone else who loved this man will be in so many prayers, thoughts, hearts. Especially mine.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous DCUrbanDad said...

Sending good thoughts your way and to his family.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger sam {temptingmama} said...

I love you. I am so very very sorry. I wish there was more to say, something I could do for you.

*hugs* Thinking of you.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger lime said...

oh fadkog, i'm sitting here all tery eyed because you've conjured who he was so effectively as to make me wish i'd had the chance to meet him this side of heaven. unabashedly enthusiastic in expressing his joy, exuberant in his love for those around him, and a fan of princess bride and monty python...what's not to adore?

my deepest coondolences for you and the rest of his family and firends. i pray for the needed comfort for you all. i am glad that though you all grieve, you don't do so without hope.

big hugs.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 11:41:00 AM  
Blogger Slyde said...

im very sorry for your loss. He sounds like a dear friend indeed.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I am so very sorry. Thinking of you and his family.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 1:51:00 PM  
Blogger Together We Save said...

Sorry for your loss. I will be praying for you and his family.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 3:56:00 PM  
Blogger Amy W said...

So many hugs are going out to you while you mourn this spectacular man and close friend. Your tribute to him is beautiful and, I'm sure, just scratches the surface of what he meant to you and the many people who counted him as a friend.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 5:16:00 PM  
Anonymous WaltzInExile said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Those larger than life people leave giant holes when they go, don't they? The good thing is, they also leave you plenty of memories to hold dear.
Thinking about you tonight and hoping you find comfort where you can.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 9:09:00 PM  
Blogger Cynthia said...

So sorry for your loss...{hugs}

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 9:57:00 PM  
Blogger Zip n Tizzy said...

What a tremendous shock!
You've done a remarkable job of describing him. How wonderful to have had him in your life.
My thoughts will be with you, and what sounds like so many near and dear friends of his, tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009 11:44:00 PM  
Blogger Christina Lee said...

wow we both had a similar kind of week-- thanks you for your comments BTW! *hugs* to you--what a wonderful tribute post!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 6:43:00 AM  
Blogger The Stiletto Mom said...

I am so sorry for your loss. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain you must be going through. Keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 1:07:00 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

I am so sorry. What a loss.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009 11:46:00 PM  
Blogger The Savage said...

The loss of a dear friend (especially one with such a passion for the 80s) is always hard. My condolences....

Thursday, October 29, 2009 6:23:00 AM  
Blogger Lotus (Sarcastic Mom) said...

I'm so sorry you lost your friend.
You wrote this beautifully for him.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 7:19:00 PM  
Blogger Divine Chaos said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, I'll keep you and his family in my prayers. What a beautiful tribute this was to Shawn.

Thursday, October 29, 2009 9:25:00 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Loss is never easy, and it's even harder when we lose someone young and suddenly. Hugs.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009 9:46:00 PM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

I am so sorry for your loss. And I'm especially sorry I didn't see this until now. We lost a friend that very same day, the younger brother of a girl I grew up with, and I... just wasn't on the internet much. He was 35.

On the same Thursday? Really? That two such very loved people would be taken

Tuesday, November 03, 2009 10:59:00 PM  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

Love and huge hugs to you, my dear FADKOG.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009 11:01:00 PM  
Blogger msprimadonna67 said...

Heartbreaking. I am sorry for your loss. It sounds like your dear friend was someone who lived out loud, fully present in his world. What a beautiful gift of example he gave to all those around him.

Friday, November 06, 2009 3:01:00 PM  

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